A Seal Cove woman is saying she was shocked and horrified late last month after she endured an experience at the hands of RCMP in Baie Verte that left her confused, tired and frustrated.
Vera Rice is a cancer survivor. Her condition and treatment over the years has left her in a condition where she has very poor balance and trouble walking.
Late in June she was returning home late at night after leaving the hospital in Baie Verte, where she was receiving treatment for an infection that came as a result of years of cancer treatment.
This particular night, though, Rice says she was pulled over by RCMP just before the Seal Cove turn-off. She says she wasn't speeding, and was wearing her seatbelt at the time.
“The cop came up and asked me why I was going so slow” she said. “I told her I was going slow because it was dark, and I don’t like driving at night, plus I was getting ready to pull off to go out to Seal Cove.”
Rice says the officer asked her for her license and registration, and also asked if she’d been drinking or doing drugs. She informed the officer that she'd just left the hospital and had been taking antibiotics.
It was then the officer told her to get out of the car, and proceeded to perform a field sobriety test.
“She asked me to walk a straight line and to stand on one foot and balance, and all this,” said Rice. “I couldn’t do it because of my condition and the infection I had in my bones.”
Rice says she tried to explain to the officer about her condition and why she wasn’t able to do the things she asked, but felt she wasn’t heeded.
“She put me in the back of her car, she said, and made a phone call,” she said. “By and by she came back and told me she was taking me to Deer Lake for a drug test.”
Rice says she was shocked at the news. It was after midnight, and she wasn’t expecting the outcome of her situation.
Once in Deer Lake, tests proved that Rice wasn’t under the influence, and she says it was then that they set off back to Baie Verte once again, arriving just after 5:00am, and just a couple of hours before Vera was scheduled for her next treatment.
“I couldn’t believe it” she said. “Why did I have to go through that? Wasn’t there an easier way to find out I wasn’t doing anything wrong?”
Officer followed protocol
Cpl. Justin Hewlett with Baie Verte RCMP says everything that happened in this incident was normal procedure for a case like this.
“When it comes to people who are potentially under the influence of drugs, that takes specialized training to determine whether or not they are or not” he explained. “There are only a few officers in the province who have that training, and unfortunately neither of them are stationed in Baie Verte.”
Hewlett says the officer that pulled Rice over was just doing their job.
“If we see someone we believe may be under the influence, based on our training and the signs we look for, then we have a duty to ensure that person is safe, and the rest of the public is safe. That’s our job.”
For more, see Thursday's print edition of The Nor'wester